Roy Gaines’ Black Gal

(Alex LaRotta who runs the audioblog I’m Shakin’ gave us this to share. It’s been in queue for a while but there’s never a bad time for something so timeless. Hats off to Alex for the nice contribution. -DM)

‘Black Gal’ by Roy Gaines

Houston native Roy Gaines and his take on the classic Americana folk dirge, ‘Black Gal’, features a spread of sweet organ soul with a country blues foundation. ‘Black Gal’, also known as ‘In The Pines’ and ‘Where Did You Sleep Last Night?’ in various renditions, was made popular in the early ’90s by Seattle’s most well-known crusty grunge trio, Nirvana, on their lauded MTV Unplugged series. Though largely credited in origin to the various recordings by blues folk pioneer Lead Belly, this song dates back to the late 19th century and has since gone through an evolution of genres and interpretations.

With its jazzy guitar work, diverse percussion array, and reverberated vocals, Roy’s ‘Black Gal’ is easily one of my favorite versions of this folk standard. Not to mention, where else can you hear such disparity in the rhythm section for a soul single? There’s just something about the odd time-signature that really works for me. Roy went on to session with some of Houston’s most well-known recording artists on the local Duke Records imprint and elsewhere, working with the likes of Jr. Parker, Big Mama Thorton, Bobby ‘Blue’ Bland, and blues legend T-Bone Walker, amongst others. I don’t know much about this particular record label or its strikingly original name, but I’d like to think it might be Gaines’ own imprint since he tenders arrangement and production credit. But if anyone knows something I don’t, please feel free to drop knowledge! And before I go, big up to David and the crew for their hard work on this fine audio blog, I’m honored to contribute! – Alex LaRotta

P.S. If any of our readers happen to be in Austin for this year’s Austin Record Convention, be sure to peep Alex (La Zola) and our bud Adam D. (Slim Jenkins) at this event afterwards. Rhythm and soul guaranteed!

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5 thoughts on “Roy Gaines’ Black Gal

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